HomeHealthRaymond Damadian, Creator of the First M.R.I. Scanner, Dies at 86

Raymond Damadian, Creator of the First M.R.I. Scanner, Dies at 86

Dr. Raymond Damadian, who constructed the primary magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which revolutionized medical doctors’ skill to diagnose most cancers and different diseases — however who, to his dismay, noticed the Nobel Prize for the science behind it go to 2 others — died on Aug. 3 at his residence in Woodbury, N.Y. He was 86.

The trigger was cardiac arrest, mentioned Daniel Culver, a spokesman for the Fonar Company, which Dr. Damadian based in 1978.

Since Dr. Damadian and his analysis assistants completed constructing the primary M.R.I. scanner greater than 40 years in the past, it has turn out to be a necessary piece of medical gear, permitting medical doctors to look contained in the human physique with extra element and higher decision than X-rays and CT scans present, with out exposing sufferers to damaging radiation as many different applied sciences do.

“We take it as a right now, however M.R.I. is totally spectacular,” Dr. Burton P. Drayer, the chairman of the radiology division on the Mount Sinai Well being System in Manhattan, mentioned in a telephone interview. “M.R.I. is best at detecting cancers, notably within the mind and backbone.”

However the query of who owned the thought, and the system, was a contentious one from the beginning.

Two scientists whose analysis contributed to M.R.I. know-how had been later awarded a Nobel Prize, an honor that Dr. Damadian felt ought to have additionally gone to him. And no sooner had his machine come in the marketplace than a handful of main companies began producing their very own variations, resulting in years of courtroom battles over patent rights.

The imaginative and prescient of scanning the human physique with out radiation got here to Dr. Damadian within the late Nineteen Sixties, he mentioned, when he was engaged on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy — which, till then, had been used to establish the chemical make-up of the contents of a check tube — at Downstate Medical Middle (now SUNY Downstate Well being Sciences College) in Brooklyn.

Working with rats, he found that when tissues had been positioned in a magnetic subject and hit with a pulse of radio waves, cancerous ones emitted distinctly completely different radio alerts than wholesome ones.

He printed his findings in 1971 within the journal Science and was granted a patent three years later for an “equipment and methodology for detecting most cancers in tissue.” It took 18 months to construct the primary M.R.I., initially referred to as a nuclear magnetic resonance scanner, or N.M.R. Its first scan, on July 3, 1977, was of Lawrence Minkoff, certainly one of Dr. Damadian’s assistants — a vivid and colourful picture of his coronary heart, lungs, aorta, cardiac chamber and chest wall.

“Having birthed the unique concept of the N.M.R. physique scanner, we had been intent on being the primary to perform it,” Dr. Damadian mentioned within the guide “Gifted Thoughts: The Dr. Raymond Damadian Story, Inventor of the M.R.I.,” printed in 2015, which he wrote with Jeff Kinley. “Failing to take action meant we could be denied the popularity for the unique concept.”

However the know-how behind the M.R.I. had a number of fathers.

Acknowledging that he was impressed by Dr. Damadian’s work, Paul C. Lauterbur of the State College of New York at Stony Brook had discovered methods to translate the radio alerts bounced off tissue into photographs. And Peter Mansfield of the College of Nottingham in England had developed mathematical strategies for analyzing the info, making the method extra sensible.

Incorporating these advances, Dr. Damadian’s firm, Fonar, based mostly in Melville, N.Y., produced the primary industrial scanner in 1980.

However Fonar was quickly confronted with competitors from main companies like Common Electrical, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, Hitachi and Philips.

Dr. Damadian sued all of them for patent infringement. He misplaced his case in opposition to Johnson & Johnson when a federal choose in 1986 put aside a jury verdict in favor of Fonar,

The choose, Dr. Damadian mentioned, “did every thing he may to sandbag us in courtroom.”

He received his largest authorized victory in 1997, when the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a decrease courtroom’s award of practically $129 million in damages and curiosity from G.E. He additionally received smaller settlements from different producers.

Raymond Vahan Damadian was born on March 16, 1936, in Manhattan, and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens. His father, Vahan, an immigrant from Turkey, was a newspaper photoengraver; his mom, Odette (Yazedjian) Damadian, was an accountant.

Raymond studied violin for a number of years at Juilliard however diverted to science when he acquired a Ford Basis scholarship to attend the College of Wisconsin, Madison. He majored in arithmetic there and graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in 1956. He acquired his medical diploma 4 years later from the Albert Einstein Faculty of Drugs within the Bronx after which grew to become a fellow in biophysics at Harvard, the place he grew to become aware of nuclear magnetic resonance know-how.

Whereas working at Downstate and later at Fonar, Dr. Damadian was conscious of Dr. Lauterbur, a chemist who was additionally engaged on M.R.I. imaging and with whom he shared the Nationwide Medal of Know-how.

In “Gifted Thoughts,” Dr. Damadian acknowledged that Dr. Lauterbur “realized that the N.M.R. sign variations in diseased and regular tissues I found may very well be used to assemble an image (picture).”

He wrote a letter to the American Medical Affiliation, proclaiming that “some unconscionable scientific pilferer is attempting to steal my whole life.”

He then spent a number of hundred thousand {dollars} on an commercial that ran in six main worldwide newspapers. Headlined “The Shameful Fallacious That Should Be Righted,” the advert claimed that the Nobel Prize committee had unfairly denied him the prize.

On the backside of the advert he offered a coupon, addressed to the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Drugs, to let readers inform the committee that “the TRUTH will need to have a spot,” and that it ought to add him because the third recipient of the award.

Dr. Hans Ringertz, chairman that 12 months of the Swedish committee that awards the prize, had no touch upon Dr. Damadian’s claims however instructed The Instances that there was nothing to stop Dr. Damadian from being nominated sooner or later.

A 12 months later, Dr. Damadian acquired one of many two annual Bower Awards given by the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philadelphia. He was cited for his enterprise management.

“There is no such thing as a controversy on this,” mentioned Dr. Bradford A. Jameson, a professor of biochemistry at Drexel College who was the chairman of the committee that selected the winners. “For those who have a look at the patents on this subject, they’re his.”

Dr. Damadian mentioned then that he was now not involved with the Nobel dispute. However he instructed The Instances, “If individuals wish to rethink historical past aside from the details, there’s not a lot that I can do about that.”

Dr. Damadian continued to innovate. He created open M.R.I. machines, which alleviate the claustrophobia sufferers can expertise throughout scans when they’re moved slowly by means of a good tunnel, in addition to cellular and stand-up scanners.

Lately, he was targeted on analysis that included imaging cerebral spinal fluid because it flowed to the mind.

Fonar made and put in about 500 M.R.I. scanners, however as we speak it’s targeted on managing imaging facilities in the USA and servicing current scanners.

Dr. Damadian is survived by his daughter, Keira Reinmund; his sons, Timothy, Fonar’s president and chief government since 2016, and Jevan; 9 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a sister, Claudette Chan. His spouse, Donna (Terry) Damadian, died in 2020.

In 1982, because the business he helped create was in its infancy, Dr. Damadian instructed Newsday that he had not misplaced his inventor’s zeal for what lay forward.

“In 1977, I knew my machine may very well be a actuality,” he mentioned. “However till then, it was like constructing a mannequin airplane. Now I do know it’s for actual.”

Kenneth Chang contributed reporting.



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